By our guest blogger, Joel Crabtree
Video games and movies are like water and oil. The two just don't mix. Take a look at “Super Mario Bros.,” or Jean Claude Van Damme in “Street Fighter,” or the “Tomb Raider” movies, or practically every Uwe Boll film. There's always something that gets lost in translation between the console and the big screen (for Boll, that would be common sense).
In 1995, Paul W.S. Anderson realized this and made a simple, stupid adaptation of John Tobias and Ed Boon's “Mortal Kombat,” which was highly derivative of Bruce Lee's “Enter the Dragon.” Yeah, it sucked, but it did well enough to spawn a bastard sequel, “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation,” and a syndicated TV series, “Mortal Kombat: Conquest,” which ended in 1999.
Since then, “Mortal Kombat” was dead as far as the movie world was concerned.
And then an unlikely hero stepped up. Kevin Tancharoen, the director of the “Fame” reboot, stepped up and took an interest in the franchise and gave “Mortal Kombat” something to be excited about for the first time since 1993.
In June, Tancharoen released an 8-minute short appropriately titled “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth,” starring Michael Jai White (“Spawn,” “Black Dynamite”), Jeri Ryan (“Star Trek Voyager”) and Ian Anthony Dale (“The Event”).
Rather than present audiences with a cinematic regurgitation of the video game a la Anderson, Tancharoen created a new, gritty universe that liberally used the characters, themes and story lines from “Mortal Kombat.” The director intended to use “Rebirth” as a way to pitch a new “Mortal Kombat” film to Warner Bros.
The result was, quite frankly, awesome, especially when considering the $7,500 budget. It also showed what the “Fame” director was really capable of.
Apparently Tancharoen also impressed Warner Bros., because late last month the studio gave him the green light for a 10-episode Web series, which White and Ryan signed on for on Feb. 14. We can only hope that Dale and the rest of the cast will follow.
If the 8-minute short is any indication of how this series will be, then it will not doubt be popular among fans and may even grow an audience outside of gamers. It's a small step toward redemption for video game movies. As a whole, they still have a long way to go and a lot of history to apologize for. We can hope that Tancharoen's vision will pave the way for future video game adaptations.
The real question remains, however, will Tancharoen find a way to incorporate “Techno Syndrome” aka “The Mortal Kombat Theme” by The Immortals? We can only hope.
Either way, “Mortal Kombat: Rebirth” remains a small victory for gamers.
See how far “Mortal Kombat” has come. Watch Tancharoen's short film and compare it to the trailer for Paul W.S. Anderson's “Mortal Kombat” from 1995.